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Longest-Held Witness Finally Walks Free After 905 Days

With $5,982 for the trouble
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2015 10:20 AM CDT
Longest-Held Witness Finally Walks Free After 905 Days
District Attorney Jeff Lesowski, right, asks questions of Benito Vasquez-Hernandez, left, Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Hillsboro, Ore.   (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Benjamin Brink)

(Newser) – After 905 days in jail, the country's supposed longest-held witness is a free man and has been given $5,982 from the state of Oregon for his trouble. Police escorted Benito Vasquez-Hernandez, the prosecution's star witness in the murder trial of his son, from Washington County Jail yesterday, hours after he testified in the case, the Oregonian reports. Vasquez-Hernandez had been held at the jail for more than two years as a material witness because prosecutors feared he wouldn't turn up to his son's trial. During two hours in the witness box, Vasquez-Hernandez denied a prosecutor's claims that Eloy Vasquez-Santiago confessed to his father about killing 55-year-old Portland woman Maria Bolanos-Rivera in 2012, and that Vasquez-Hernandez had found blood on his son's clothes and in a van he drove.

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"You told police he threw a bloody knife in the trash," prosecutor Jeff Lesowski said, per the AP. "No, that's a lie," Vasquez-Hernandez testified through a Spanish translator. "Sir, your voice is on a tape recording saying those words," Lesowski noted. "But I didn't say anything regarding that," Vasquez-Hernandez said. "I've just been saying the truth." He was taken back to jail, processed, and allowed to leave with a $5,750 check and $232 in cash. A material witness is to receive $7.50 per day in custody under Oregon law. He was given about $6.60 per day; it isn't clear if he'll receive further payments. Vasquez-Hernandez plans to return to California, where his family moved after Bolanos-Rivera's disappearance. Her body was never found. The murder trial is to be left with the jury today. (Read more murder trial stories.)

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